Stan worked for an industry giant for seven years. Things went smooth. Of course, it was not all that easy to get his ideas through. The hierarchy was pretty rigid. Stan didn't quite mind this until the startup culture came along. Flexible hours and fancy work culture made his, up till now, alright corporate life look dull, too straight jacketed and boring. Stan took the plunge; He joined a high-energy startup with a colourful culture. And he lived happily ever after, or did he?
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Culture change is inevitable. Since the beginning of time, we've seen new cultures come and go. Flourish or flounder. Any new culture takes in those best-adapted for change with wide open arms. The rest are spit out like pips. Remember survival of the fittest? The startup ulture is not any different from those that preceded it. Success and failure of the individual, moving through this flux, depends on their ability to adapt quickly and think clearly. It takes preparedness and an active, open mind to quickly take charge and manoeuvre with skill to the road to success.
If, like Stan, you're preparing to make the switch from the corporate world to the startup world, you need to bear in mind the following.
The primary difference between a corporate culture and a startup is this: In the corporate world, uncertainty doesn't come knocking on a day-to-day basis. You work towards a vision and mission well- defined, perhaps, long ago. You are well-insulated in the shadows of time-tested processes. In the startup world, everything is new. There are no time-tested processes. Trial and error are an integral part of almost every move. Life in the corporate world is like navigating through a busy, chock-a-block city road. Everyone is looking to get ahead on their own. They know they'll get where they want to go. But they just don't know when. In a startup, you are filing in a straight line with your mates through a thick forest, paving the path – with the founders at the helm. In the forest there are new things to see, learn and create. There are new dangers to be faced and overcome. There is the dire need for the team to stick together. In the forest, things could go either way.
In a startup, you will, more often than not, be working closely with the founders. No matter how democratic they want the setting to be, they will still be holding their idea close to their hearts. It takes a very high level of maturity to treat their idea as your own, align with their vision and move along towards set objectives.
A startup is like a baby still in the womb. It needs special care and attention. Its needs are more important than that of yours. You need to understand this thoroughly. Be ready for rough patches. However, such situations are vital in creating a balanced and mature individual. They are great for personal growth.
Your role in a corporate company will always be well-defined. You will be allotted a specific task and will be expected to do it well. However, the dynamics of the startup world require you to be more – to manage or oversee a wide gamut of functions outside your core area of expertise. This again is an enriching experience, but only for those with an open mind and a thirst to learn and grow, no matter how many years of experience you have put in the corporate world.
Remember, beyond the trimmings of the fancy work culture, the casual dress code and the flexible work hours, a startup is all about business. The pressures of the competitive marketplace will be just the same. But unlike the corporate structure, the startup culture will give you a freehand to explore and create new ways to be disruptive. What you make of this challenge is entirely in your control.
Both the corporate world and the startup world have their high and low points. So, which world is good for you? Well, that depends on your personal objectives, your threshold for risks, and your thirst to learn and explore new things. The startup terrain can be rough and uncertain. It may not give you the tag of a multimillion dollar enterprise, and you may not feel as secure. But the startup world is full of opportunities. There's something new to learn at every turn. And from all the startup stories we come across, we can safely conclude that the ride, for sure, is exciting.